Qualcomm confirmed on Wednesday that it is buying gigabit wireless specialist Wilocity in a move that puts the mobile chipmaker firmly behind the new WiGig standard. At some point next year, we will start seeing the first WiGig chipsets in smartphones and other mobile devices, said Tal Tamir, former CEO of Wilocity and now VP of product management for Qualcomm’s Atheros division.
The deal closed this morning, but Qualcomm did not reveal a purchase price for the Israeli company, though earlier reports stated the parties were negotiating in the $300 million range.
The deal is big boost for the WiGig IEEE 802.11ad standard, which is now under of the Wi-Fi umbrella. Unlike Wi-Fi, WiGig is intended to be a much more close-range technology similar to Bluetooth. But unlike Bluetooth, WiGig will support multigigabit transfer speeds by tapping into a broad range of frequencies in the 60 GHz bands.
Right now the technology is being used primarily to connect peripheral devices to PCs in the enterprise, for instance the new wireless docking stations and laptops offered by Dell. But with the help of Qualcomm’s mobile silicon and Atheros Wi-Fi divisions, WiGig will soon start making its way into consumer Wi-Fi routers, mobile phones, tablets and other consumer appliances, Tamir said.
These extremely powerful 60 GHz connection will let phones stream 4K video to TVs or allow for the near instantaneous transfer of huge media files between devices in a local area network, he said. The hope of WiGig’s backers is the technology will form an extremely high-bandwidth overlay to the traditional home and office wireless network.
Qualcomm’s Atheros group partnered with Wilocity long before the acquisition to develop joint Wi-Fi/WiGig chips, the first of which was unveiled at CES last year. But with the companies now joined at the hip, Qualcomm is embedding WiGig deeper into its product lines. WiGig will now integrate directly with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 mobile application processor line, which is targeted at higher end smartphones, Tamir said.
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